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Question DetailsAsked on 5/22/2013

Who do we call for problem with dryer duct that hooks to wall, runs downward via wall, a pipe in wall & foundation?

Dryer duct is odd; so much so that two companies (like Stanley Steamer) had no success attempting to clean the vent/ duct. After the above mentioned company came, our dryer began to over heat, actually burning us & our clothes. About the same time we discovered odors were backing up into the dryer, on clothes & into home. often the odors are unbearable and we must detach the dryer vent from wall, cover, where oddly droplets of moisture appear. The 2nd company (via camera) discovered a brush had broken off in 1st attempt to clean near curve in duct and was mold covered. This duct goes from vent on wall, runs downward via pipe out to side of hose via foundation. Brush apparently broke off near area of curve. Was forced out with air and since odors build up in dryer, on clothes, in laundry room & nearby; often so overwhelming -we detach vent from dryer duct, cover hole entirely. The only (temp) solution we've achieved is to fill duct/ pipe with hot water, let stand, blow out & repeat.

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Filling duct pipe with hot water is almost guaranteed to leak - dryer duct is not designed to be and is not watertight - so doing that will really make for a mold problem. Also, hot water alone, unless boiling, would not kill the mold, and leaves the pipe for mold to start growing again. That, plus low airflow through the duct due to the blockage does not heat the duct for the moist air to dry out so it condenses in the cold vent pipe, which is likely contributing to your mold smell. Another distinct possibility which could also explain the water droplets is that your ductwork is not airtight, so warm moist air is leakingout into the wall cavity, and then condensing in the wall space and molding. The camera might have given an indication if there were open joints or damaged ducting, although this could be the case if it was assembled without proper joint sealing - say with just a wrap of duct tape, which will loosen up and let air through in 5-10 years or so.

You need to solve this mold problem as well as the blocking vent problem.

I would say going on with this current configuration is going to be a continuing nightmare, and what you spend in frequent cleanings would pay for a new duct installation in a couple of years, not to mention eliminating an immediate fire hazard due to lint buildup under and by your dryer. You don't say why the duct goes down through a pipe and out at the foundation (as I visualize it) rather than straight outside. It should take the most direct route to an outside wall and vent through a louvered or flappered vent cover there, subject to rules about how close it can be to a fresh air intake, window, or air conditioner unit.

It sounds like yours has two tight 90 degree bends - also a bad idea, and illegal in many jurisdictions, which commonly only allow one, at the dryer. Ducting should be smoothly curved - there are special so called "radius" or "long turn" ducting elbows specifically for this purpose if you can't avoid turns, and flexible hose properly fastened to the wall to prevent kinking is also a possibility, where flexible duct hose allowed by code. Your ducting should be configured so any turns are at locations they can be readily accessed visually and with a vacumn - at the outside vent for instance (or within wall thickness of that), and at the inside wall near the dryer where the duct from the dryer can be easily pulled off it for vacumning. You should not have inaccessible sharp bends.

It is not a big thing to run new ducting through floor joists and out through the outside wall - in my house it took me about 1 hour complete to do about a 10 foot long installation, so that would (with materials) probably be about $150-300 for an HVAC contractor. Of course, your flooring would have to be accessed first to see if there is available space for the ducting - some houses are cross-braced with plywood gussets so as to make such access very difficult. However, if you are on an outside wall already, just going straight through it would probably be a solution, with duct leading along a wall from there to the dryer.

Also - if your dryer overheated to the point of actually burning clothes (rather than just getting boiling hot, which would burn your hands but not the clothes), it is possible the over-temp sensor on your dryer has failed, as it should have shut off the dryer before that happened. Is easy to replace (there are usually 2) for about $20-30 parts plus an appliance repairman service call for $60-100, or do it yourself if electrical handy. Be sure to be ready to give them the make, model number, and serial number when you call for service - usually inside the dryer door itself or on a metal plate on the inside doorframe, occasionally on the back cover. You might wait on this till after the duct is fixed, because it is possible, with your low airflow, that the dryer was running hot but not fire-hot, and then when shut off a large batch of clothes can leave some sitting right up against the perforated grill-like opening or screening in the back wall of the drum area where the hot air comes into the drum, where they can get hot enough to burn from the residual heat as the element or gas flame shuts off and cools. You should not load a dryer so full that clothes can sit against that opening when the drum stops turning.

if you still have the brush (and hopefully your receipt), I would call the first company and demand they pay for the cost for the second company to run the camera and remove the brush - to lose a brush and not notice it is grossly incompetent. I suspect they realized it had fallen or broken off and just left it to avoid having to go to the effort of removing it.

Sounds like time to enter a review on Angie's List !

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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